IAN Morrow, the head of planning at West Oxfordshire District Council, has retired after 38 years of service.

He joined the council on August 1, 1974, as a senior planner, after working in a similar role in Northern Ireland.

He worked his way up the ranks in the council’s planning department before taking the top job as head of planning and sustainable communities.

He said: “I have enjoyed my varying roles over many years, trying hard to balance the varied and often conflicting issues arising from the planning system. I have been fortunate to work with many committed and supportive colleagues during that time and to live in a lovely part of the country.”

Simon Hoare, the chairman of the council’s human resources committee said: “Ian has been an outstanding example of public service.

“Much of the recent built form and character of West Oxfordshire can be attributed to him and we all owe him a debt of thanks for helping keep West Oxfordshire special, while also delivering growth and economic development. He will be missed.”

Mr Morrow is succeeded by Natalie Blaken, who has more than 20 years of experience in planning and economic development in the public and private sectors, mostly in the East of England.

And Claire Locke has become the temporary head of environmental and commercial services, a post that will be shared with Cotswold District Council in Gloucestershire, where she has been the head of environmental services since 2009.